Taliban leaders meet with Western diplomats in Oslo to discuss Afghan human rights

Taliban and Western diplomats meet in Oslo on Monday for talks on Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis and human rights, especially for women whose freedoms have been curtailed by harsh Islamists.

In their first visit to Europe since returning to power in August, the Taliban will meet with representatives of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the EU and Norway.

The Taliban delegation is led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. The discussions for closed doors, led by Norway, are held at Soria Moria Hotel, on a snowy hill outside Oslo.

Discussions are expected to focus on Afghanistan’s humanitarian situation, which has deteriorated drastically since August last year when fundamentalists stormed back into power 20 years after being overthrown.

International aid stalled, exacerbating the situation of millions of people already suffering from hunger after several severe droughts.

Thomas West, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan, tweeted on Sunday: “As we try to address the humanitarian crisis together with allies, partners and aid organizations, we will continue clear diplomacy with the Taliban regarding our concerns and our continued interest in a stable, respectful of rights and inclusive of Afghanistan. ”

No country has yet recognized the Taliban government, and Norway’s Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt stressed that the talks “would not represent legitimacy or recognition of the Taliban”.

“But we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country. We can not allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian catastrophe,” Huitfeldt said on Friday.

As we seek to address the humanitarian crisis with allies, partners and aid organizations, we will continue clear diplomacy with the Taliban on our concerns and our lasting interest in a stable, rights-respecting and inclusive Afghanistan.

US Special Representative Thomas West (@ US4AfghanPeace) January 23, 2022 Meanwhile, the Taliban hopes the talks will help “transform the war atmosphere … into a peaceful situation,” government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP on Saturday.

Since August, international aid, which financed about 80 percent of the Afghan budget, has stopped and the United States has frozen $ 9.5 billion in assets at the Afghan central bank.

Unemployment has soared and the salaries of white-collar workers have not been paid for months in the country, which has already been ravaged by several severe droughts.

Hunger now threatens 23 million Afghans, or 55 percent of the population, according to the UN, which says it needs $ 4.4 billion from donor countries this year to address the humanitarian crisis.

“Icebreaker” The international community is waiting to see how the Taliban intend to govern after being accused of trampling on human rights during their first term between 1996 and 2001.

While Islamists claim to have been modernized, women are still largely excluded from public sector employment and most girls’ high schools remain closed.

Two female activists disappeared this week in Kabul.

On Sunday, the first day of the three-day visit to Oslo, the Taliban met with members of Afghan civil society, including women activists and journalists, for human rights talks.

One of the participants in the meetings, women’s rights activist Jamila Afghani, told AFP “it was a positive ice-breaking meeting”.

The Taliban “showed benevolence … Let’s see what their actions will be, based on their words,” she said.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet: “All Afghans must work together for better political, economic and security results.”

“The participants … realized that understanding and joint cooperation are the only solutions.”

The 15 members of the all-male delegation arrived on Saturday aboard a plane chartered by the Norwegian government.

Among them was Anas Haqqani, leader of the most feared and violent faction of the Taliban movement – the Haqqani Network, responsible for some of the most devastating attacks in Afghanistan.

His participation has been heavily criticized on social media.

(AFP)

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